|My father - 1977|
But then, my children were born.
My father became Papa, and he was the most loving and involved grandfather I could have asked for. Though he still stumbled through his life, continuing to veer off course instead of following the road he was on, when he was with my children, all of that was forgotten - and he got such joy from being part of their lives as they grew up. He went to their sporting events, cheering loudly (very loudly!), and spent countless evenings at our house for dinner, and, for a time when things were bad for him, even lived with us for a while. My son and my father had a particularly special bond, beginning with their shared birthday, and culminating, at the end of his life, with the thrill my father, a huge football fan, got from watching my son play football in high school. He gave so much love to my kids, and they loved him back so purely - because none of his shortcomings, his imperfections, or the mistakes he made had any bearing on them at all. With them, he could just be Papa, with no real responsibility or accountability - and so they got the best of him.
|Adam and Papa - 2001|
When my father was diagnosed with Lymphoma at 65, it was the beginning of a difficult three years - for him, of course, but for all of us who loved him, too. The disease took away what he prized the most - his physical strength and independence - and beat him up badly, as cancer does. We did everything we could to help him, to be there for him, to love him - and losing him was by far the most difficult thing I've ever been through. Because in the end, though I knew I'd told him I loved him so many times, and shown him in so many ways, it just didn't seem like I'd done enough. What I've come to realize is that's what it means to miss someone you love after they die. You never feel as though you're finished with them, but there's no more time. I miss him every day.
|My father - 2005|
I'm not a very spiritual person, but every so often I have a dream about my father that seems so real, it's as if he's come to visit me in my sleep, and it affects me so profoundly...and though I'm sad, I'm also very grateful. Because, even if it's only in a dream, I get to see him and hear his voice again - and to let him know just how much he is still with me, with all of us.